Brooklyn Heights

Holocaust survivor will share her story on being aboard the ill-fated ship St. Louis

April 9, 2018 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Holocaust survivor Sonja Maier Geismar will speak at Wednesday’s Yom HaShoah program at St. Francis College. Photo courtesy of Sonja Maier Geismar
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Holocaust survivor Sonja Maier Geismar will share her journey escaping the Nazis on Wednesday, April 11 as the keynote speaker for St. Francis College’s annual Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, event. The program is part of the college’s Maroney Forum for Arts, Culture & Education.

Maier Geismar, who was born in the state of Baden in southwest Germany, was just 4 years old when her family fled on the ill-fated ship the St. Louis on the way to Cuba. Maier Geismar and more than 900 other mostly Jewish passengers were denied entry, and later rejected from landing in the U.S. The ship was forced back to Europe, where the passengers were split up across the continent. More than 250 died at the hands of the Nazis.

Following the St. Louis voyage, Maier Geismar and her family went to England for eight months and immigrated to the U.S. before World War II.  The transition was filled with struggles for her parents, but they succeeded in building good lives.

A resident of New York City, she was a high school librarian and currently is an adjunct librarian. She has sensed a growing obligation to speak about the Nazi era and its impact, especially in the wake of current increasing anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

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St. Francis College has for several years held its Yom HaShoah program so that the entire community might learn lessons from the Holocaust. The program’s mission is to keep alive the memories of those who perished and those who survived to tell of the atrocities.

The program, which is free and open to the public, starts at 12:20 p.m. in the college’s Maroney Theater at 180 Remsen St. in Brooklyn Heights.

St. Francis College was founded in 1859 by the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn.


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